Freetown International Airport Resumes Fulltime Operations

Commercial Fights have resumed in Freetown yesterday, Wednesday July 22nd, 2020.

"Reopening the country is a welcome development. However, ensuring that all the appropriate public health measures are in place and fully implemented will help to safeguard lives and prevent further spread of this epidemic", said Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.

A new travel advisory has been issued by the government containing safety and public health guidelines which passengers are required to fully comply with. The guidelines include mandatory laboratory testing for all inbound passengers upon arrival at the airport, where a laboratory facility has been set up to facilitate the process. Meanwhile, proof of a negative COVID-19 result issued by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation within 72 hours prior to departure is a requirement for all outbound passengers.

Following training of Airport employees and service providers, as well as development of new operating procedures, the Airport authority, aviation stakeholders and health sector partners conducted two full-scale field simulation exercises, to test the readiness of the facility, to manage the flow of passengers, and to detect persons suspected of COVID-19 or other public health conditions. The lessons of this exercise will be helpful in ensuring continued improvement and strategic decisions for the aviation and health authorities in Sierra Leone.

"We were quite impressed by the planning and arrangement in place so far, despite few challenges. What remains is continuous improvement and enforcement of everything that has been instituted. Enforcement and civil adherence to preventive measures are the key drivers of progress in the fight against this pandemic, and that is what we are seeing in countries that are now putting the outbreak under control", said Charles Njuguna, Health Security and Emergency Lead at the WHO Country Office in Sierra Leone.